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Fast active learning for pure exploration in reinforcement learning
Pierre Menard · Omar Darwiche Domingues · Anders Jonsson · Emilie Kaufmann · Edouard Leurent · Michal Valko

Wed Jul 21 09:00 PM -- 11:00 PM (PDT) @
Realistic environments often provide agents with very limited feedback. When the environment is initially unknown, the feedback, in the beginning, can be completely absent, and the agents may first choose to devote all their effort on \emph{exploring efficiently.} The exploration remains a challenge while it has been addressed with many hand-tuned heuristics with different levels of generality on one side, and a few theoretically-backed exploration strategies on the other. Many of them are incarnated by \emph{intrinsic motivation} and in particular \emph{explorations bonuses}. A common choice is to use $1/\sqrt{n}$ bonus, where $n$ is a number of times this particular state-action pair was visited. We show that, surprisingly, for a pure-exploration objective of \emph{reward-free exploration}, bonuses that scale with $1/n$ bring faster learning rates, improving the known upper bounds with respect to the dependence on the horizon $H$. Furthermore, we show that with an improved analysis of the stopping time, we can improve by a factor $H$ the sample complexity in the \emph{best-policy identification} setting, which is another pure-exploration objective, where the environment provides rewards but the agent is not penalized for its behavior during the exploration phase.

Author Information

Pierre Menard (OvGU)
Omar Darwiche Domingues (Inria)
Anders Jonsson (Universitat Pompeu Fabra)
Emilie Kaufmann (CNRS, Univ. Lille, Inria)
Edouard Leurent
Michal Valko (DeepMind / Inria / ENS Paris-Saclay)
Michal Valko

Michal is a machine learning scientist in DeepMind Paris, tenured researcher at Inria, and the lecturer of the master course Graphs in Machine Learning at l'ENS Paris-Saclay. Michal is primarily interested in designing algorithms that would require as little human supervision as possible. This means 1) reducing the “intelligence” that humans need to input into the system and 2) minimizing the data that humans need to spend inspecting, classifying, or “tuning” the algorithms. That is why he is working on methods and settings that are able to deal with minimal feedback, such as deep reinforcement learning, bandit algorithms, or self-supervised learning. Michal is actively working on represenation learning and building worlds models. He is also working on deep (reinforcement) learning algorithm that have some theoretical underpinning. He has also worked on sequential algorithms with structured decisions where exploiting the structure leads to provably faster learning. He received his Ph.D. in 2011 from the University of Pittsburgh under the supervision of Miloš Hauskrecht and after was a postdoc of Rémi Munos before taking a permanent position at Inria in 2012.

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